There goes America

By Henry Lamb
web posted November 15, 1999

America is unique, different from any other nation on earth. Among the characteristics that make America unique, is our reverence for the land. Land is the foundation of security, of opportunity, of prosperity, of capitalism; it is the foundation upon which the world's greatest nation has been built.

It is not just the land, however. Every nation has land, but not every nation has prospered. The other essential ingredient required for the construction of a successful society, is the private ownership of land. Where individuals own the land and are free to use it, societies prosper. Where land is owned collectively by the "people," and managed by the government, societies falter, and eventually collapse.

Socialists reject the idea of private property, believing instead, that government ownership and management of land is the only way to assure its efficient use for the equal benefit of all.

For nearly half a century, America has been moving away from private ownership of land, to "public" ownership and control of land. Governments now own more than 40 percent of all the land in America. At the insistence of the administration, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are creating a $2.8 billion annual slush fund to continue buying more private property.

America, once a bright beacon of hope to the rest of the world, is selling its soul to the socialist ideal of "public" ownership of land.

Neither the President, Vice President, nor Don Young (R-AK) nor George Miller (D-CA), Congressional sponsors of the land grab slush fund, will discuss the socialistic odor of their program. Instead, it is presented as a "Lands Legacy," and "protecting the last great places." Socialism, called by any other name, smells the same. Public ownership and control of the sources of production is the classic definition of socialism. Land is the source of all production.

The land government does not yet own, it controls. Under the misguided pretense of protecting the environment, the government has quietly taken control of virtually every square inch of land in America. There is some kind of law in place that gives the government jurisdiction to prevent the use of any privately owned land. Consequently, the government already has the power to transform this beacon of capitalism into just another slave of socialism. And the government is accelerating its use of its power.

By taking control of public education, government has succeeded in teaching two generations that wolves and grizzly bears are more important than humans. By handing out tax dollars to Green Advocacy Groups (GAGs), the government has employed an army of propagandists working in virtually every community to demonize the concept of private property, and hold up the principle of "public" control. By utilizing the power of taxation to force behavioral changes, government is penalizing free market initiative, and rewarding socialistic conformity.

Only a few of the people who are advancing this socialist agenda would call themselves a socialist. Some call themselves "Progressive." Others use the term "enlightened." It doesn't matter what terms are used to obscure the process or disguise the result; when government owns or controls the sources of production - socialism is the result.

The sad irony is that all the dollars, all the effort, and all the propaganda that has been required to effect the transformation, will not protect the environment. It will, in the end, transform prosperity into poverty, enslave the people, and the environment will be forgotten.

Our national priority should be environmental stewardship, not environmental protection. Private owners of land are, by far, more responsible stewards than an agency of government. Individual land owners have their livelihood at stake. They love their land. They gladly care for their land in the best way they know. Government's role, if any, should be to provide knowledge and technology, available to land owners to use as they wish. Where land use is restricted, the restrictions should be imposed only by officials elected by those whose land use is restricted. Land use should never be restricted by un-elected bureaucrats who think they know best how everyone else should live.

It may be too late to revive that reverence for private land ownership which is responsible for America's growth and prosperity. Americans now live in cities, and the land is a television image where they hope, one day, to load up their Land Rover and go visit — for a short while.

It may be too late to rekindle that spark, which motivated another generation, to work hard and save enough money to one day buy a small piece of land where a few chickens, a horse, and a garden, could occupy children's after school hours. Rural communities where voluntary fire departments are the norm, where PTA's sponsor cake-walks, instead of gun-collections, may become victims of the urban sprawl propaganda.

This land is no longer our land — individually. It is "our" land — collectively, just as it was in the Soviet Union, and still is in China and Cuba. It is "our" land individually, only to the extent government permits us to use it. It is not the same land our forefathers founded. It is not the same land that our fathers fought to defend. It is a new land, increasingly owned and controlled by government. Our reverence for the land is being transformed into a forced reverence for the government which we have given the power to dictate how, when, and where, we may, or may not, use the land. America's unique characteristic of private land ownership is fading into history.

In another century or two, when the inherent flaws of socialism once again bring oppression to the people enslaved by it, another John Locke or Thomas Jefferson may arise, and dust off the history books and rediscover what Americans forgot during the last half of the 20th century.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International.




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